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Celebrating C.T. Vivian and BHM Through Geographic StoryMap Project

In celebration of Black History Month 2024, the McDonough County Branch of the NAACP partnered with Western Illinois University’s Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences (EAGIS) Department faculty, the Schools of the Macomb Unified School District 185 to organize a series of competitions tailored to different grade levels on map projects.

Sunita George, professor of Geography, and education secretary of the McDonough County chapter of the NAACP, proposed a StoryMap project for this year’s Black History Month Student Competition because it had become increasingly apparent, at all levels of society, that there was a confounding ignorance of the under-girding role which geography plays in our understanding of all aspects of the landscape which we inhabit.

“The Black History Month Student Competition was created by the NAACP to raise awareness of, and celebrate the contributions of African-Americans to these United States, so it afforded a good opportunity to use geographic themes of peoples and places to tell the story of C.T.Vivian, a “native son” of Macomb.  By using ESRI’s StoryMap software, geographic thinking was encouraged and geographic skilling undertaken, thus reaching out to attract students to the department from the high school,” George said.

Students of Macomb High School were invited to craft narratives honoring the life and legacy of civil rights activist and Macomb High School alumnus, C.T. Vivian, using ArcGIS online StoryMaps. This initiative aimed to cultivate geographical curiosity and stimulate proficiency in data and multimedia integration through the use of a geographical information systems (GIS) platform.

Students used ESRI’s ArcGIS Online StoryMaps to embed historical facts in a visual, geographic context. Supported by EAGIS at WIU, 11 compelling story maps were submitted by 16 students (some working in pairs). 3 prize winners and 2 honorable mentions were chosen, and all 11 submissions were celebrated at the 2nd Annual Black History Month Award Ceremony hosted at the Macomb Art Center on Wednesday, April 10th, 2024.

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